Two Hearts Album Review

81hhsbocdhl-_sy355_There has been tremendous anticipation among Jackie fans like myself for the release of Jackie Evancho’s latest album titled “Two Hearts.”  Just recently I received my copy of “Two Hearts” consisting of two CDs.  The Title of the album is based on Jackie’s love of both classical and pop music, which is somewhat characteristic of the Classical Crossover genre that she is know for.  The first copy of the album that I received is a special edition version exclusive to Walmart.  Keep in mind that the Walmart version of the CD has three extra songs on it vs. the standard album sold by other retailers.  Having the song “Fix You” on it is a huge bonus for me, because I adore Jackie’s version of this song.  For a few extra dollars, the Walmart version of the CD is definitely worth it over the standard version.  Thus, I will focus this review on the Walmart version.

Whenever I listen to a new album, I usually need to listen several times to each song in order to fully absorb all of the subtleties that are in the music and to fully appreciate the experience.  I must say that the experience of listening to Jackie on this album is amazing!  Each time I listen to it, I discover more nuances that pull me into the music in a profound way.   My initial observation of this new album is that Jackie has grown into an extremely diverse singer.  She explores many different avenues of music on this album – classical, pop, hip hop, spiritual / inspiration, and patriotic to name a few.  Needless to say, this album is quite eclectic with all of the various music styles that it contains.  One would think that all of this musical diversity may cause some blurriness on the thematic identify of this album, but somehow that is not the case.  The tracklist works quite well – providing the listener with a unique musical experience from track to track, which is quite refreshing and enjoyable.  It is incredible how Jackie’s voice transforms from one style to the next, demonstrating that she is truly a multidimensional singer with limitless talent.  Jackie’s voice has been taken to new heights and she shows us the different ways that she can adapt her voice to different musical styles.  She can sing with her smooth lyrical classical voice in one track and then switch to a more edgy pop-sounding voice on the next track.  Each of her vocal styles are matched perfectly to the context of the music, which sometimes isn’t the case with some singers who sing classical and then try to sing pop.  It is apparent that Jackie can handle multiple vocal styles with ease, while still staying true to herself without compromising on vocal quality.

The Walmart special edition of “Two Hearts” is loaded with good high-quality music – total of 18 tracks spread across two CDs.  There is a mix of cover songs and some originals.  The originals are songs written specifically for Jackie in addition to some songs written by Jackie in collaboration with other songwriters (shown on the tracklist later in this post).  These new pop songs explore a different side of Jackie’s voice, demonstrating her diversity as an artist.  The new pop songs are excellent and I am hoping they will get enough attention for radio airplay.  I think that many of the songs on this album will definitely appeal to pop music fans who also have eclectic musical tastes.

Here is my brief rundown of my impressions of each track on the Walmart special edition album, which contains three extra songs (*) not found on the standard album.

  • Caruso (Lucio Dalla) – Jackie sings a beautiful rendition of this song, which contains some very intricate and complex Italian lyrics.  This is more of a classical-sounding song in which the singer must transition back and forth from a somewhat recitative style to an aria style. The song could be classified as operatic pop.  It is a technically challenging song that Jackie sings beautifully!
  • Attessa (Petro Mascagni, Chara Feral) – This song is an adaptation from the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, (Pietro Mascagni) originally released by  Sarah Brightman back in 2008.  Jackie once again takes on the Italian lyrics of this piece with grace and finesse with some wonderful phrasing and roundness in her vocal tone.  The last high-note that Jackie hits is exquisitely jaw-dropping!
  • How Great Thou Art (Traditional, K. Hine Stuart) – Such a gorgeously inspiration piece of music sung by a gorgeously inspirational singer.  When Jackie sings this song, I find myself getting so caught up in the music that I suddenly feel tears welling up without warning – also known as “The Jackie Effect” coined by fans.  It is almost as if a little piece of Heaven reaches out and touches me when I hear Jackie sing this song.  Jackie reaches into the upper register in glorious acclamation on the last soaring note of the piece.
  • Mamma (Cesare Andrea Bixio, Bixio Cherubini) – It wouldn’t  be a mystery why Jackie would have chosen to sing this song.  The lyrics are a very poignant reminder of the admiration and love that Jackie has for her mother Lisa as well as her gratitude for all the sacrifice that she has given for Jackie.  As Jackie sings this song, you can almost feel the depth of the meaning that it has for her and Lisa.
  • May It Be (Enya, Roma Ryan, Nicky Ryan, Howard Shore) – This is a well-known New Age song made popular by Enya.  Jackie sings this song in a similar style as Enya without the Celtic mordents and turns that Enya incorporates.  Instead, Jackie utilizes more of a classical interpretation.  Each interpretation has its own merit.  I happen to like them both.
  • The Way We Were (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch) – Of course almost everyone knows this song made famous by Barbra Streisand.  When I first found out that Jackie was singing “The Way We Were,” I wondered if she would be able to escape the comparison of having to live up to Streisand’s legendary connection to it.  What can I say, except that Jackie delivers a beautifully remarkable rendition with some subtle nuances that enhance that endearing feeling one gets when they hear this song.
  • Have You Ever Been In Love (Jimmie Linville) – This song has a dreamy feel to it with obvious lyrics about falling in love.  Jackie incorporates a soft pop voice that has a serene feeling to it, showing us a different side of her vocals.
  • Safe And Sound (T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams) – Jackie’s cover of “Safe and Sound” was originally released in 2015 as a music video and is now part of the Two Hearts album.  I’ve always liked Jackie’s rendition of this song even more so than the original Taylor Swift version.  I am glad that it is included on this CD.  It is definitely a treat to hear Jackie sing this song in her own unique way.  The song builds to a driving beat that really soars with the vocals delivered by Jackie.   Be sure to check out the music video too because it is very well done.
  • Writing’s On The Wall (Sam Smith, James Napier) – This was another song that was released back in 2016 as a music video.  The song is a cover of Sam Smith’s rendition of the title track from the James Bond movie – Spectre.  Once again Jackie sings this cover in her own unique way that is a little bit lighter than the Sam Smith version.  Within the context of the James Bond movie, I still prefer Sam Smith’s version, because it has more of that dramatic feel to it, which is characteristic of Bond movie soundtracks.
  • A Thousand Years (David Hodges, Christina Perri) – This song consist of a duet between Jackie and Fernando Varela originally debuted on Fernando’s PBS special aired earlier this year (2017).  The recording is from the live performance of that special.  The original song is reinvented with Italian lyrics .  Both Jackie and Fernando compliment each other’s voice very well and they blend perfectly together.
  • * Coming Home (Shawn Carter, Jermaine Cole, Alexander Grant, Holly Hafermann) – This is another cover song that Jackie released as a music video back in 2016.  It has some subtle differences from the original Skylar Grey recording.  Although the song itself is not one of my top favorites, I think the song and video together are a very honorable tribute to soldiers wounded in battle, especially when they get to “come home” to be reunited with their families.
  • * Fix You (Guy Berryman, Jonathan Buckland, William Champion, Christopher Martin) – This is one of my top favorite pop songs on the album.  This song was originally done by Coldplay.  I can’t say enough about how much I like Jackie’s version of this song!  The music is gentle, yet powerful and Jackie sounds amazing singing it!  I will go so far as to say that Jackie’s cover outdoes the original Coldplay version of the song.  It’s that good!
  • * America The Beautiful (Katharine Lee Bates, Samuel Ward) – When you listen to Jackie sing “America The Beautiful,” it is no wonder that she is asked to perform at many prestigious national events such as the Presidential Inauguration, National Prayer Breakfast, National Christmas Tree Lighting, Capitol Fourth and National Memorial Day concerts.  Jackie does such a wonderful job singing our national pride songs, and “America The Beautiful” is no exception.  You can’t help but feel pride in America when you hear Jackie sing this song.
  • Sane (Jackie Evancho, Dina Fanai, Heather Holley) – This pop song and the next three that follow it are written by Jackie herself.  This song in particular is a bit edgier than the typical songs that Jackie fans have been accustomed to in the past.  Initially it was a bit of a surprise and it to took me a few playbacks to fully absorb and appreciate the different vocal style.   However, I am really impressed by this song and the fascinating way Jackie uses her voice in it – incorporating a syncopated light hiphop style that leaves a lasting impression that makes me want to listen to it again and again.  I can definitely see this song being a big hit and it is one of my top favorites on the album.
  • Pedestal (Jackie Evancho, Dina Fanai, Heather Holley, Richard Kirkel) – Jackie takes a page out of Taylor Swift’s song-writing style by creating a song that is somewhat of an autobiography of her feelings about how people perceive her.  The song resonates with some poignant lyrics that illustrate Jackie’s desire to not be put on a pedestal with lofty expectations, but rather for her to be seen as being genuinely true to her own self.
  • The Haunting (Jackie Evancho Dina Fanai, Heather Holley) – When I first heard this song it was from a video of a live recording of it.   I wasn’t very impressed by it.  However, the studio recording is another story.  I actually like it a lot!  This song has a mysterious and “hauntingly” dark style coupled with some really fascinating lyrics that flow with the title of the song.
  • Wonderland (Jackie Evancho Dina Fanai, Heather Holley) – This is another song on the pop side of the Two Hearts album.  The song favors Jackie’s lower vocal register in which she primarily uses her chest-voice, with some brief transitions to head-voice.
  • Apocalypse (Peter Zizzo, Jillette Johnson, Nick Carbone, John Secolo) – Last but not least, the song Apocalypse is a sad ballad about a broken relationship.  This song was specifically written for Jackie and was initially released as a music video back in 2016.  The heart-tugging lyrics really play on emotions when romance has turned into breakup  – analogizing it to an apocalyptic moment of brokenheartedness.  This is one of my favorite songs on the CD because it is so emotionally moving.  This could easily be another hit song!
* = Song is only on the special edition Walmart album.

 

The title of this album is certainly representative of the music that it contains.  I find myself loving both the classical and the pop sound that Jackie has incorporated into the CD – thus the title “Two Hearts” is certainly appropriate.  Not only does Jackie demonstrate her incredible singing talent, but also her song writing talent.  I am greatly impressed by the songs she has written (Sane, Pedestal, The Haunting, and Wonderland).  This album is quite an accomplishment for Jackie.  Her producers have created a high-quality album.  If you were to ask many of her fans to pick song favorites, you would probably get many different answers because Jackie’s music touches everyone in a unique and personal way depending on individual musical tastes.  It can be difficult to pick favorites because all of the songs are very good.  My favorites change day to day.  As of now, my main favorites consist of Fix You, How Great Thou Art, The Way We Were, Sane, The Haunting, Attessa, Safe and Sound, and Apocalypse.  They are all a mix of different styles and I am completely comfortable with that.

In conclusion,  if you like good music and want to experience a variety of musical styles, then by all means you should purchase a copy of Two Hearts.  I think it will have a wide appeal across many age groups and I hope that the world will discover the incredible music that this album has to offer.

You can purchase a copy of “Two Hearts” at the following links in addition to other retailers and online sites:

Jackie Coming Home To Pittsburgh

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it has s been about 2 years since the last time Jackie put on a concert for her hometown crowd in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I had the pleasure of attending her latest coming home concert on March 5th, 2017.  Although Jackie has performed in Pittsburgh many times, this was the first time she has had a concert at The Benedum Center since 2011 when she was only 11 years old.  I still have fond memories of that day on December 20th, 2011  because it was the first time I got to actually meet Jackie.  I wrote a blog entry of that experience – Another incredible day in Pittsburgh.  Almost 6 years later, Jackie has returned to The Benedum Center once again.  The Benedum is a beautiful concert hall.  I was thrilled when I heard of this concert announcement about 6 months ago because Pittsburgh concerts are very accessible for me since it is only about a 2 hour drive from where I live.  I was fortunate to be able to get two seats for my wife and I in the 4th row center Pit section of the theater.  The seats were excellent and were just slightly left of center stage.  It is one of my favorite places to sit for a Jackie concert.

Before the concert, several of us fans gathered together for a dinner at Braddock’s restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel just a few blocks down the road from the Benedum Center.  It is always great to sit down with other fans, enjoy a meal, and talk about our favorite moments of being a fan of Jackie.

After the fan gathering, we proceeded to walk to the Benedum center for the concert.  The weather was slightly chilly with temps in the 40s.  As we got closer to the theater, one could sense the excitement as other concertgoers gathered to file in at the entrance doors of the Benedum theater.  As my wife and I walked in after having our tickets scanned, we immediately got caught up in the atmosphere of the place.  The Benedum theater is beautifully ornate and is a gorgeous venue.  Memories started to come back to me from the last time I saw Jackie perform at the Benedum back in 2011.  I knew from this moment on, the evening would roll by quickly, so I did my best to absorb the experience as much as possible.  We were escorted to our seats by an usher and I realized that we were sitting just two seats over from the exact same place that we sat for the 2011 concert.

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Soon the house lights would dim and the concert began.  Jackie’s music director Peter Kiesewalter would cue up the strings and start the first song  – Pure Imagination.  Jackie seemed a bit nervous at the start of the song, but it didn’t take long at all for her to calm down and settle into the music.  For the rest of the evening Jackie would be in the zone and was thoroughly immersed in her performance.  It was such a stark contrast of the now 16 year-old Jackie vs. the 11 year-old Jackie that stood on that stage almost 6 years ago.  Jackie has grown up and she has blossomed into a beautiful young woman with a new aura of confidence about her.  She still has a charming demeanor, but on a more mature level.  I can’t say enough about how she takes ownership of the stage and looks completely at home when she is in front of an audience.  Her stage presence is magnificent.   Now, I’ve been to plenty of singing concerts given by teenagers who are Jackie’s age (usually high school programs), and I must say that Jackie is wayyyy beyond her years with how she commands the stage and how she performs.   Her concerts are nothing like high school music programs.  One would never guess that she is only 16 years old.  It is almost surreal to witness such incredible singing talent from someone her age.  Of course, this has been the case with Jackie throughout these past 6 years, but now even more so.  Her vocal tone is pure and pitch perfect coupled with an impeccable feel for the music.  Jackie was very charming and personable with her hometown audience.  I’ve been to several of her concerts, and I must say that Jackie engages with the crowd in a unique and personal way at each performance.  She makes everyone feel at home and provides an emotional escape when she sings.  It is truly a blessing to be a part of it.

There was a unique treat that Jackie gave to her hometown audience.  For the first time, she performed a song that nobody has heard before and will be on her upcoming Two Hearts CD.  The song she performed was the Barbra Streisand classic, “The Way We Were.” Jackie performed this song in a way that was true to Streisand’s rendition, but in a way in which Jackie put her own unique touches on it as well.  It was a very special moment with Jackie singing a very special song.  The concert setlist in general had a nice mix of music from her past CDs in addition to a few new songs that have been part of this latest concert tour.  Jackie is branching out a bit into other music styles, but she still maintains the familiar musical qualities that many of her fans have come to know and love.  One song that stood out for me was the cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You”  If you have ever listened to the original version sung by Coldplay, you wouldn’t believe how different Jackie’s interpretation of the song is.  She sings it with a tenderness that is so heartwarming and yet emotionally powerful.  It brought on one of those moments when I felt a tear forming because the music was so riveting to me.  The funny part is that I don’t even know why.  That’s the magic of Jackie’s voice.  Of course, there were many other songs on the program that were just as touching as the ones that I mentioned earlier.  Jackie sang the entire program flawlessly.  Here is a rundown of the concert setlist:

Pure Imagination
Made To Dream
Memories
Music Of The Night
Marriage of Figaro – Peter Kiesewalter instrumental Interlude
Fix You
What A Wonderful World
Impossible Dream
Nessun Dorma

INTERMISSION

Caruso
The Way We Were
Music from Carmen – Peter Kiesewalter instrumental Interlude

Song Medley:
O Mio Babbino Caro
Time To Say Goodbye
Think Of Me
Somewhere
When You Wish Upon a Star

The Prayer
Writings On The Wall
Safe and Sound
Lovers

Encore – The Lord’s Prayer

Although Jackie is the focal point of her concerts, there are other aspects of her concerts that are part of the experience as well.  The comradery of being around other fans who appreciate Jackie is very special.  I always enjoy having conversations with other fans and finding out how they discovered Jackie.  For some people this concert was their first to attend, and for others it was one of many concerts.  I heard stories of fans who became friends because of their connection to Jackie.  There was one heartwarming story of two mothers who both lost children to car accidents.  Both of their children were big fans of Jackie but they had never made it to one of her concerts before they passed.  Both mothers pledged that they would attend Jackie’s Pittsburgh concert as a way to memorialize their children and give them the chance to hear Jackie in spirit through them.  This is one of many touching stories that I have heard from people who have found comfort through Jackie’s music.  It is in these stories where I am reminded of just how special Jackie is to so many people and it is one of the many reasons why I am such a big fan.

 

Jackie’s latest CD titled “Two Hearts” will be available at the end of March.  You can pre-order now on Amazon and on iTunes.  Based on the few songs that I have heard from it so far, I think the CD is going to be great!

2016 – A Year In Review

image_1410466738_jd_gv_jacki_evancho_fbWith the closing of 2016, I have decided to post a recap of some of the major highlights that Jackie Evancho has accomplished this past year, as well as to reflect on some things that are significant from my own personal experience as a fan of Jackie.

Music Videos:

Jackie Evancho fans were treated to a mix of three music videos containing new songs featuring Jackie.  The first video was released on January 29th and consisted of a cover song of Sam Smith’s “Writings On The Wall” that was from the James Bond movie “Spectre.”  This music video carried a theme of opposing secret agents, starring Jackie and her older sister Juliet.

A couple of months later on March 25th, Jackie would release another music video containing a cover song of Skylar Grey’s “Coming Home, Pt. II.”  This video focussed on a profound theme of a critically wounded veteran returning from deployment to his wife who calls for him from his bedside to “come home” and awaken from his injury.

The third music video (and also my personal favorite) released on April 22nd contains an original new song created for Jackie called “Apocalypse.”  The video contains a heart-tugging theme of a romance break-up.  The emotion of this song and video is very strong and has caused me to shed a tear on occasion when listening to it.  That emotional tug is one of the trademarks of many of Jackie’s songs.

Performances:

Of course Jackie had a fair share of concerts and performances from this past year.  Here is the interactive concert map that shows most of Jackie’s public performances for 2016.


One of the most notable performances of 2016 was when Jackie returned for the second time to the US Capitol to sing for the PBS Capitol Fourth Concert on Independence Day.  Jackie sang God Bless America to a very receptive crowd that weathered a rainy day to experience the event.

Although Jackie has performed several concerts this past year, the Cleveland concert on October 8th was very special for me because I was able to attend it.  You can click here to read about my experience at this concert.

It is worth mentioning that Jackie introduced some new songs at some of her concerts including a cover of Cold Play’s “Fix You” as well as a new original song titled “Think About Me.”  Both songs will likely be on her new CD titled “Two Hearts”, which is expected to be released early in 2017.

Other Notable Events:

A live performance of a new song called “The Haunting” was debuted when Jackie performed for an event at Joe’s Pub on November 13th.  It was revealed to attendees that Jackie wrote this song.  It is more of pop/rock song, which goes in a different direction than the typical Classical Crossover sound that Jackie is normally known for.  Note that the video below is at the sound-check, because the video quality at the performance had some technical issues.  A studio recording of this song hasn’t been released, but will potentially be available early next year (2017).

Jackie released a new Christmas CD this year called “Someday At Christmas.”  This CD contains some songs from previous CDs, in addition to the new title song “Someday at Christmas.”  There is a very nice variety of christmas solo songs on the CD and some duets where Jackie sings with Placido Domingo, Peter Hollens, and Il Volo.  The CD had one bit of controversy tied to it.  The original recording of the song “Hallelujah” was mixed incorrectly on the CD where the producer shifted the original pitch too high.  Jackie sent out a tweet about the issue.  As a result, Sony Music admitted the mistake and provided an option for fans to get a replacement CD upon request with the correctly mastered track.

A surprise for Jackie fans came with a second duet of “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” with Peter Hollens.  This song could be found on Peter’s Christmas CD titled  “A Hollens Family Christmas.”

Jackie would return as a guest performer on the America’s Got Talent Christmas special where she would sing “Someday at Christmas” to a very enthusiastic audience. The performance was wonderful!

Although this next event doesn’t occur until 2017, I thought it was worth noting that Jackie made the announcement that she will be singing the National Anthem at the January 20th, 2017 Presidential Inauguration.  There has been some controversy with Jackie’s announcement.  Some people have been critical of Jackie for the decision to perform for Donald Trump.  I believe that this criticism has been unfair and has been unjustly politicising Jackie.  This appearance isn’t about politics as much as it is about Jackie performing for America and the office of the presidency.  Jackie has made this very clear in a publicized interview.   Undoubtedly this announcement has generated some buzz.  Jackie’s CD sales have nearly quadrupled since the announcement, so people are taking notice.

Epilogue:

Jackie has taken her fans on an interesting journey this past year with some Q&As on social media, opportunities to purchase signed copies of her Someday At Christmas CD, interactions on social media, and of course her amazing singing voice.  There have been some changes that have occurred this past year in which Jackie fans have had to adjust.  A popular Jackie fan discussion forum, that was managed by Jackie’s parents, is no longer available.  I believe it was an unfortunate loss, but I understand that it was likely becoming a burden for Jackie’s parents.  The forum was a valuable place to get the occasional insight into Jackie’s career from people who were the closest to Jackie.  However with the close of the forum, fans have transitioned into other outlets to stay in-touch and continue to discuss Jackie’s career (now sadly without input from Jackie’s mother Lisa).  There are several other Jackie fan sites, social media outlets, and other various forms of communication for fans; so life goes on.  You can find many of these sites on the links page of this blog.

With the close of 2016, I am excited to see where Jackie takes her fans in 2017.  I am sure that Jackie will be doing many special things and continuing to mesmerize us with her amazing voice.

Cleveland Concert Review

screenshot_2016-10-10-09-30-56This past Saturday (October 8th, 2016), I had the pleasure of attending another Jackie Evancho concert at Cleveland Playhouse Square Ohio Theater.  This would be my 9th Jackie concert to date.  I had also attended Jackie’s performance at Cleveland Playhouse Square Palace Theater back in 2013 when she was 13 years old.  I was very happy that the now 16 year old Jackie came back to Playhouse Square for another concert since this is very close to home for me.  The entire Playhouse Square performing arts district in Cleveland is a wonderful collection of theaters and is the largest performing arts center outside of New York City (as is claimed on the Playhouse Square Wikipedia page).  The Ohio Theater is a beautiful venue and I was told by the staff that it had just recently been renovated this past year (2016).  It is a smaller theater compared to the Palace.  Ohio theater has a capacity of 1000 seats compared to the Palace at roughly around 2700 seats.  My wife and I had 3rd row seats in the Center Orchestra section of the theater.  This has always been one of my favorite places to sit for a Jackie concert.  Unfortunately there was no photography or video recording permitted for this concert so I do not have any media to share in that regard.

One of the first things that I noticed regarding this concert was that there wasn’t a live orchestra present to accompany Jackie.  Instead, the stage was set with a piano, assorted candles and various flower bouquets coupled with subdued lighting.  I could tell that this was going to be a different experience from other Jackie concerts I have attended.  The last time I saw Jackie perform was in 2015 at Pittsburgh.  The entire Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was there to accompany her at that concert, so it was a stark contrast to see the stage set in a very minimalistic way with no orchestra for the Cleveland concert.  Although Jackie is more than capable of singing amazingly no matter who is accompanying her, I have to admit that I was hoping to see her perform with orchestra again.  There is a certain grandeur to see Jackie as the feature artist with an orchestra.  I must say that I did miss that.  For this concert, Jackie would be accompanied solely by her music director Peter Kiesewalter.  Peter uses an array of computer-managed backing tracks with his piano playing to provided the accompaniment for Jackie.  It is an interesting setup and I often wonder how it is all coordinated.  It does work well, but I think there is something amiss to not have a contingency of live musicians as the source of the accompaniment.  After-all, that is the reason it is called a live show.  But, one can say that Jackie is the main attraction and the absence of a live orchestral accompaniment puts the focus more on her.  The backing-track sound system gives the effect of live accompaniment and Peter does a great job coordinating his playing with Jackie and the backing-tracks.  I can’t say that I am completely in favor of this new setup, but it was still a treat to be able to see Jackie perform live.

There was one aspect of the concert that was a disappointment for me.  Considering that the Ohio Theater is a 1000 seat venue, I would estimate that there was probably only around three to four hundred in attendance.  This was probably one of the lowest-attended Jackie concerts I have ever been to.  It was heartbreaking to see such a small crowd show up for such a talented singer like Jackie.  I don’t know if something went awry with the promotion of this concert, but I can’t fathom why more people wouldn’t show up to hear Jackie sing.  Maybe the recognition of her accomplishment on AGT has faded from the memories of the people who once attended her concerts in the past.  Or maybe the novelty of seeing a younger Jackie was more of a draw than an older teenage Jackie.  I don’t think any reason is good enough, because hearing Jackie live in concert is an amazing experience and is still well worth the price of admission, no matter what her age.  Her voice is more powerful and more beautiful than ever!  She is still a phenomenon who sings well above her age of 16!  Her voice is so captivating and it is always a pleasure to witness how she soars over notes using such expressiveness that tugs at my emotions.  Sure, there are some differences in Jackie’s current concerts compared to the past…. Gone is the little girl who would playfully twirl, skip, and giggle while on stage; Gone is the splendor of seeing s small child commanding the respect of a full orchestra.  Young girls eventually grow up and Jackie is certainly no different.  She has now grown up into a beautiful young adult with poise and professionalism that is beyond her teenage years.  Jackie still has some playful banter with the audience, but on a different maturity level from when she was younger.  She knows how to reach her audience in a personal and humbly profound way.  Time moves on and Jackie moves along with it.  Each phase of her life will bring another new dynamic to the experience of following her career and I feel blessed to be able to witness a part of her journey through life these past 6 years and beyond.

The music Jackie performed  consisted of many of the songs that she has sung in the past on her CDs titled Dream With Me, Songs From The Silver Screen, and Awakening.  Jackie also sang some new songs that were recorded this past summer and shared with fans via music videos on YouTube.  Although Jackie released a total of five new music videos this past year, she only performed two of the new songs from those videos at the concert.  This included Safe and Sound and Writings On The Wall.  The new songs that were absent from the set-list were All of The Stars, Apocalypse, and Coming Home.  I was really hoping to hear Jackie perform the song Apocalypse because it was an original song that was written just for her and it is very well done.  I am not quite sure why it wasn’t included on the program.  However, Jackie did perform a couple of new songs from her upcoming CD (soon to be released in the early part of 2017) that I had never heard before, so it was a treat to get a sneak peek at these songs.  The two new songs that she sung were a cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” and a new original song titled “Think About Me.”   Although I don’t really care for the original Coldplay version of “Fix You,”  I really liked Jackie’s version of the song.  It isn’t unusual for Jackie to take an existing song and make it better with her exquisite vocals and her musical interpretation of the song.  The song “Think About Me” was very good too, but I think “Fix You” was more of my favorite.  Of course it was certainly wonderful to hear Jackie perform all of her past CD songs too.  There are so many great songs from her CD repertoire that it is hard to pick favorites.  However, for the first time, I got the chance to experience Jackie performing a very special song that is near and dear to me, and that is “Nessun Dorma.”  This song started me becoming a fan when I first saw the recording on YouTube of Jackie singing it for her PBS Great Performances special back in 2011.  I was so captivated at how she sang this song that I was moved to tears (as is the case with many of Jackie’s songs).  I described this in detail on my very first blog entry titled Why Do I Admire Jackie Evancho.  So, it was a huge treat for me to finally get to hear Jackie sing Nessun Dorma live.  Her performance of it was magnificent!

The entire experience of being at a Jackie Evancho concert is one-of-a-kind and it is always something that I will cherish each time I am fortunate to be able to attend.  This concert was no different in that regard.   I have said this before, but it can’t be said enough.  If you ever have the opportunity to see Jackie Evancho perform live in concert, do not pass it up!  She is enchanting, charming, and has a voice that will melt your heart.  Be sure to visit Jackie’s YouTube Channel and official website to find out more about her.

2015 – A Year in Review

It has come to that time to look back on the previous year and reflect on all of the various events that have transpired.  2015 was certainly a busy year for Jackie Evancho.  The first big memory of the year for me started early in February when I attended Jackie’s concert at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall.  I wrote about this experience in the following blog post.

Jackie Gives Her All at Heinz Hall

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Although I did not create any other blog posts this year other than the one mentioned above and this summary post, there are still many great events that occurred for Jackie Evancho and for her fans to reflect upon.

Below is a summary of some of the the 2015 highlights in addition to the approximately 40 concerts and appearances shown on the map below:

 

Highlights

Jackie performed overseas in Thailand and Malaysia to take part in David Foster and Friends shows.  In Thailand, Jackie had her first duet with Andrea Bocelli.  Videos of the rehearsal  and performance was captured by Jackie’s father Mike Evancho.

 

In Malaysia, a video was captured of Jackie singing Hey Jude as part of the finale of the show.

 

Jackie would release three music videos this year.  The first video is with Jackie singing a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.”  She is accompanied on acoustic guitar by Nick Marzock.

 

The second music video titled “All of the Stars” generated a lot of attention as it focused on Transgender Identity issues and later it would be made known that Jackie’s (then) brother Jacob had made the decision to come out as being Transgender.  From that point forward, Jacob had decided to be identified as Jackie’s older sister Juliet.  Of course this generated some controversy, but it also illustrated the strong bond that exists with Jackie and her older sibling in addition to focusing on acceptance of people who may be different than ourselves.

 

Jackie’s third music video was a brilliant cover of the song “Safe and Sound” from the Hunger Games movie.  Jackie demonstrates that she can sing pop songs just as well as she sings classical music.  The music video is very well done and includes Jackie’s younger sister Rachel playing the part of Primrose.

 

Jackie would travel overseas once again to Italy where she would take part in a major Celebrity Fight Night exclusive fundraiser where she would perform a solo and duet once again with Andrea Bocelli.

 

 

In addition to Celebrity Fight Night, Jackie would be involved in other public charity events this year including this surprise performance for Yolanda Foster at the Global Lyme Alliance Inaugural  Gala.  Jackie also indicated that her mother is also struggling with the disease.

 

Jackie would get an opportunity to sing at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia as part of the festivities to welcome Pope Francis.

 

Jackie was invited to sing the National Anthem for her hometown Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football.

 

Jackie reached a milestone this year in which it was determined that she had performed in her 100th full-feature concert on December 12th at Grenada Theater.  I decided to use the concert map data that I had accumulated over the years and create a tribute video celebrating Jackie’s first 100 concerts.

 

Jackie ended the year with a series of Christmas concerts that she performed.  In 2014 she was unable to perform during the Christmas season due to struggles with walking pneumonia.  Thankfully she has had a full recovery and was able to sing a series of Christmas concerts this year in 2015.  Here is a fan video from one of those concerts in New Buffalo, MI.

 

In addition to the highlights that I pointed out, one of Jackie’s fans (Martin UK) put together this wonderful video summarizing all of Jackie’s performance activity for this year.

 

And last but not least for all you statisticians out there, here is a page generated by WordPress that contains the generated summary of the activity on this blog over this past year.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope that you like the information posted here in support of Jackie Evancho.

Jackie Gives Her All at Heinz Hall

20150213_210052[1]Recently I had the good fortune of attending another Jackie Evancho concert at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA on February 13, 2015.  And, once again Jackie never ceases to impress me.

Since returning home from Jackie’s concert I have been trying to process the experience and put it into words.  Jackie’s concerts always seem to put me into a euphoric fog afterwards and it can be a bit of a challenge to adequately describe the experience, but I will give it my best shot.

This was the first time I had seen Jackie perform live in-concert since attending her Awakening PBS special recording at Longwood Gardens (See my blog post of that concert by clicking here).  The Longwood Gardens concert was a magnificent experience, but it was not a typical concert setting since it was being recorded for TV.  At Longwood there were re-takes, setup shots, producer announcements, and various other TV production necessities.  The concert at Heinz Hall would be more of a traditional concert than the PBS filming at Longwood.  At Longwood, Jackie performed with a studio pick-up orchestra and electronic audio tracks.  At Heinz Hall, Jackie would be performing with members of a major symphony orchestra – the renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO).  I knew this would be a very special concert because of that.  In addition, Karin Hendrickson would be debuting as a guest conductor for the first time with the PSO.  Before I go on with my impressions of the Heinz Hall concert I just want to say that Karin did a tremendous job conducting.  I really hope that she and Jackie will work together again in the future.  Karin was very attentive in showcasing Jackie in the best possible way.  In addition, she had great interaction with the audience too.  It was a unique opportunity for Jackie to perform in such a prestigious setting with the PSO, an event that I am grateful to have been able to witness.

The tradition of fans meeting for dinner before the concert was upheld.  Many fans like myself have corresponded on-line or met at various concerts.  It is always a treat to meet up with fans to build our enthusiasm for the upcoming concert that we are about to attend.  We met at Braddock’s restaurant in the Renaissance hotel just sightly down the road from Heinz Hall.  The setting was great!  We had the entire upstairs room of the restaurant for our gathering.  There were posters and banners of Jackie on the walls, a large video screen playing the Awakening PBS broadcast, customized menus with Jackie’s name on them, buttons,  and name-tags containing pictures of Jackie on them.  It was awesome to reconnect with some fans whom I’ve met before at past concerts, as well as meet some fans whom I have only corresponded with on-line.  It is great to be among a group of people who “get it” when it comes to Jackie.  We all come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but we all have that one common thread with Jackie that binds us together.  It is a very special relationship that we all have.

Custom menu at Jackie Evancho fan gathering.  Notice the Fan Club banner at the top of the menu.

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Button passed out at the Heinz Hall fan gathering.

The weather in Pittsburgh was bitterly cold, but the skies were clear and sunny.   Thank God the concert was on that Friday, because area weather the following day was downright bad!  I only live 2 hours west of Pittsburgh and we had a big snowstorm that following day with temperatures dropping into single digits.  Thankfully we avoided all of that on Friday even though it was very cold outside.

For me, Pittsburgh concerts are extra special because the concert is at Jackie’s home-turf and many of her family and friends come to see her too.  I could see many familiar faces of family members and friends of Jackie whom I’ve seen before in videos and pictures that have been shared with fans.  There were several opportunities where I could have approached family members, but I chose to respect their privacy and let them be.  It is great that Jackie has such a supportive family.

The stage and the venue looked very elegant.  I cannot say for sure if the entire Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was there at the concert, but it appeared as though it was mostly a full orchestra – a real treat for sure!  The atmosphere of excitement throughout the concert hall was strong.

My wife and I had seats in the second row just slightly to the left of Jackie’s microphone stand.  Excellent seats for sure!  I knew this concert was going be great just by the atmosphere alone.  Soon the lights dimmed, the orchestra tuned to the concert master, and out walks the conductor – Karin Hendrickson (mentioned earlier).  The orchestra opened the concert with the Intermezzo to Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni.  It is a lovely set-up piece for Jackie and the orchestra performed it beautifully!  The orchestra would perform a total of 3 pieces without Jackie during various parts of the concert.  This also included the themes from Pirates of The Caribbean, and Jurassic Park.  Although these are hardly the demanding pieces that an orchestra of the caliber of the PSO normally plays, they did a splendid job with them and the audience was very receptive.

When Jackie came out on stage for the first time, she was wearing a beautiful blue dress that almost had a peacock-like appearance to it.  It had shimmers down the one side of it with various colors of blue mixed in.  Unfortunately there was no photography permitted so I wasn’t able to get any pictures of Jackie.  The opening song that Jackie performed was “Take Me There.”  At first I thought the orchestra took the tempo a little slower than what I was accustomed to hearing on the Awakening CD, but it really didn’t matter.  Jackie followed along and sang with a lot of energy.  At times I felt like the orchestra was slightly over-powering of Jackie – possibly due to some balance issues with the amplification system that was used.  In addition, Jackie admitted that she was fighting a cold, but she was determined that she was going to put this concert on for her home crowd.  In the first half of the concert it would have been impossible to tell that Jackie was even fighting a cold.  We kept saying that if she sounded that good with a cold, imagine how she would sound without it.  She was incredible!

I absolutely love the way Jackie interacts with the audience.  She treats the audience like individuals and talks as if she is speaking to each of us personally.  Her on-stage banter never seems artificial or staged.  She just rolls with the moment and shares her thoughts with the audience in such a way that you almost feel like she is carrying on a conversation like she knows us personally.  It is really quite special!

For me, in many ways each song is literally breathtaking to hear Jackie sing live.  I lose myself in her music and I can tell that she does the same by the expression on her face.  I find myself taking a big sigh after a song completes, almost as if I forgot to breath while Jackie sings.  It is easy to see that Jackie loves performing for the home crowd even though she admitted to being extra nervous because many of her family and friends were in attendance.  If Jackie was nervous it was impossible to tell.  She had no need to worry as she appeared very confident in spite of her admitted nerves.  The hometown audience was giving Jackie a lot of love back too with many gestures of encouragement.

In the second half, Jackie wore a gorgeous red dress that I hadn’t seen before that was absolutely stunning!   In the latter part of the second half of the concert it was obvious that the cold was taking a toll on Jackie.  About a third of the way into the second half Jackie sang a rousing performance of “With Or Without You” – inviting the audience to clap and dance along.  She had us all clapping along and even some people were dancing in the aisles.  The energy was high!  However, immediately after she finished singing that song, the cold illness started to strike and she let out a little cough.  Jackie would fight against coughing attacks throughout the remainder of the concert.  Yet, through it all, she kept her composure and remained steadfast in her performance and still continued to hit all of her pitches beautifully.  It was inspirational and impressive beyond belief that she could push through such adversity for the benefit of her fans.  I can add a new level of appreciation for Jackie to my list.  She has my deepest and utmost respect for pushing on like that.  Anyone else would have panicked and given up.  Instead, Jackie made light of the whole situation to put us at ease and to push onward.  The song she struggled with the most was “Music Of The Night” towards the end of the concert.  She tried her hardest to hold off the coughs, but missed a couple of entrances because of it.   The conductor (Karin) did a wonderful job with being attentive to Jackie and keeping the orchestra with her.  When Jackie reached the end of the regular program with Think of Me, she had forgotten to announce that it was the final song and the audience did not know that it was the final song.  However when she finished the song, it was so good that the audience gave her an enthusiastic standing ovation throughout the theater.  It was magical!  Jackie triumphed, and the audience knew it!  Jackie stayed out on stage and told us that she wanted to do one more song for us, but that she needed a minute to go back stage (probably to try to alleviate her cough).  When she came out, she sang an encore of “The Lord’s Prayer.”  Jackie sang this song about as beautiful as I have heard her sing it.  I must say that I was offering up prayers for Jackie while she sang this song/prayer, and deep in my heart and soul I know that God helped pull her through it.  I can’t even describe the emotions that were running through me when the concert was over.  It was heart-wrenching at times to know that Jackie had to struggle so much because of her illness and yet it was inspiring beyond belief that she handled it so amazingly!

I hope that Jackie knows how much her performance at Heinz Hall meant to so many of us.  As a fan I am tremendously proud of how Jackie handled the whole situation.  Hard to believe she is  only 14 years-old.  She is a consummate professional beyond her years.

Thank you Jackie!

2014 – A Year in Review

JackieEvancho[1]As we come to the close of 2014 it is time for me to look back on the year and reflect on some of the major events related to Jackie Evancho.  Personally, it was an amazing year for me as a fan of Jackie.  I was able to attend three of her concerts this year.  The first was at Detroit, the second at Chautauqua, and the third and most memorable was Jackie’s PBS concert filming at Longwood Gardens.   At the beginning of 2014 it was hard to imagine what could have been in store for Jackie and for me as a fan, but the year was full of a lot of great moments and surprises.

Jackie fans were fairly sure that a new CD would be released sometime during the year, but the details of that CD were kept under wraps.  Fans were held in anticipation as to what songs would be on the CD, when would it be released, who would produce it, and what would it be called.  There was also hints that a new PBS Special would be filmed this year as well.  Rumors and speculation were abundant as fans tried to make sense of the little tidbits of information that slowly came out on various social media sites regarding the new CD and the PBS special.

Before details of the new CD became available, various other events would transpire at the beginning of the year.  An exceptional recording of Jackie singing a duet with Jumaane Smith titled “La Vie En Rose”  was released.   A video of the recording session was released to give fans a sneak peek of the new song.  I personally thought it was a very nice collaborative effort between Jackie and Jumaane.  This duet was somewhat of a new venture for Jackie to sing in a swing / jazz style.  Jackie showed her marvelous vocal skills by singing her portion of the duet in French.  Jumaane also did a splendid job with incorporating his excellent trumpet playing and vocals into the song.

Jackie performed several concerts in 2014.   I will not elaborate on all of her performances, but you can view all of the places she has performed on the map below:

 

As I mentioned earlier, I had the pleasure of attending three of the concerts shown on the map above.  The first was at The Fox Theater in Detroit.  The second was at the Chautauqua Music Conservatory in  NY, and the third was at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.  I wrote up reviews of each of these concerts and they can be read by clicking on the respective links below:

Another surprise that fans got to see this year was another very different side of Jackie.  A music video of Jackie singing a teen Pop song titled “Go Time” was released.  This was done as a promotional video for the Justice clothing store, which would feature Jackie on the video screens in Justice stores throughout the nation.  This song was a big change from the more somber Classical Crossover style of music that Jackie is primarily known for.  In case you missed it, the video of  “Go Time” can be watched here:

 

Jackie continued with her busy (yet balanced) schedule and made a very honorable appearance to sing at the United States National Memorial Day Concert in Washington DC.  You can read about my impressions of Jackie’s Memorial Day appearance here:

https://jackieevanchoadmirer.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/honoring-memorial-day/

About midway through the year, an announcement of the new CD titled “Awakening” was made.  However, the CD would not be available for purchase until the end of September.  Anxious Jackie fans were longing for this new CD, but unfortunately it wouldn’t be available for several months following the announcement of it.  A lucky break came for some fans such as myself.  A PBS special was going to be filmed in August before the release of the CD.  The PBS special would be the debut of the songs on the Awakening CD.  As fate would have it, the Longwood Gardens location where the PBS concert would be filmed was just an eight-hour drive from my home.  Thus, I was able to attend the PBS concert filming, which was awesome – not only because I got to see Jackie perform live, but additionally I got to hear the new songs that would be on the Awakening CD.

Through the generosity of Jackie’s mother – Lisa, she provided a behind-the-scenes video taken during the making of a video featuring Jacking singing “Think of Me.”  It is more like a home movie rather than a polished production, which in some ways is more favored by many fans like myself.

 

Soon to follow, fans were treated to two additional professional videos of songs that would be on Awakening.  The first was “Rains of Castamere” from the TV show Game of Thrones.  The second song was “Think of Me” from the musical Phantom Of The Opera.

 

In September, Jackie would make a surprise return to Americas Got Talent as a special guest on the show.  She would return for a second time to the show to promote her new Awakening CD as well as to perform “Think of Me.”

 

Jackie would also appear on various talk shows such as The Today Show, Queen Latifah, and Fox and Friends, just to name a few.

Another highlight that occurred towards the end of the year was a surprise a-cappella duet where Jackie performs with Peter Hollens.  The song generated tremendous buzz over the internet and has received over 1.5 million views.

 

And finally, for anyone interested in a bunch of statistics, here is a report of the stats that this blog has generated over this past year thanks to the WordPress.com stats helper.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.


 

I want to thank everyone for reading my blog and hope that you find the information presented on this site to be useful to you.  If you are not already a fan of Jackie Evancho, I would encourage you to purchase her music from the many places where it is provided such as Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play, as well as various retail outlets such as Target and Walmart.  Jackie has an amazing vocal talent and her music is absolutely marvelous!  I can’t wait to see what she will accomplish in 2015.

Happy New Year!

A new “Awakening” has begun

0a58a-10494853_10201201010827628_2705648538131479816_n255b1255dJackie Evancho has just released her 6th CD titled “Awakening.”  I had the privilege of receiving my copy of the CD a little over a week before the September 23rd release date.  I had pre-ordered my copy of the CD from Jackie Evancho’s website when the CD release date was announced.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received the e-mail notification that my CD had shipped and would arrive by September 15th.  Turns out, the shipping of the CD was more timely than the shipping tracking-number had indicated.  Instead of receiving the CD on the 15th, I actually received it on the 12th.  Needless to say, I was very excited that this highly anticipated CD was now in my possession.  I couldn’t wait to play it.

Keep in mind, that I had heard the songs on “Awakening” when I attended the Longwood Gardens live PBS filming back on August 21st.  However, after the concert, the only way I could hear the music again was in my mind.  I would have to wait for the CD in order to listen to the music again.  As of September 12th, the wait was over.

Once I started listening to the CD, I was immediately transported back to Longwood.  The memories of the emotions that swept over me the first time I heard this music all came back to life once again.  This time though, I could listen to the music as often as I wanted, and believe me…, I am listening often!

When listening to Awakening I would suggest using a good quality audio system to get the full impact of all the lush accompaniment that is combined with Jackie’s exquisite vocals.  Jackie’s voice has a very pure and rounded sound that is magnificently complimented by the orchestral and electronic accompaniment that is part of each track.  Both Jackie and the accompaniments combine for a truly breathtaking listening experience.  Awakening is of the utmost quality and is definitely worth purchasing.  I would even go so far as to say it is probably the best album that Jackie Evancho has put out, and that is saying a lot considering how high the bar was raised with her previous albums.

My overall impression of the CD is that it is masterfully done.  The quality of the audio, the orchestration, and of course Jackie’s singing are superb!  You can tell that a lot of work went into its production.  One key point is that the Awakening CD was NOT produced using Auto-Tune –  meaning that what you hear on the CD is Jackie’s pure voice unaltered by digital tuning to correct for pitch, which is commonly used in the music recording industry.  Keeping that in mind, if someone was unaware that auto-tune wasn’t used, you would never suspect it because Jackie’s pitches are spot on target.

Looking beyond the technical aspects of the CD, I cannot help but write about the emotional impact that this music has on me.  Jackie’s music on her previous CDs has had a reputation of causing grown adults to shed tears (myself included) because it can have such an emotional impact (Sometimes referred to as “The Jackie Effect”).  I find myself almost unexpectedly getting misty-eyed without warning at random times when I listen to various songs.  Each song has a way of touching on various emotions that lie within me that get “awakened” when I hear certain lyrics or melodies that trigger these reactions.  The emotional tug is overwhelming at times and it causes me at times to let out a big sigh after hearing a song – almost as if my breath has literally been taken away.  Jackie’s music is not something I just listen to, it is something that I experience on a personal and emotional level.  That should be what music does to a person.  It should be more than just listening to a catchy tune that sounds appealing; It should take hold of us, causing moments to pause and reflect on how it affects us on a personal level.  I believe that Awakening does that!  I find myself yearning to hear it again and again, almost as if it touches a part of my soul that needs it – sort of like a warm security blanket on a cold winter night.  No other singer has ever had this type of impact on me before.  I wrestle with it at times, wondering why… why does Jackie’s music do this to me?  I thought maybe Awakening wouldn’t have this effect on me and yet there it is again – that indescribable feeling of knowing that there is something good that is coming out of Jackie.  Because of my faith, I know that it is the presence of God answering Jackie’s prayers to lovingly sing with her because she has asked Him to do so.

At this time I will give my impressions for each song on the CD.  I know that everyone has different musical tastes and I am sure that my impressions of each song may not be the same as what others may think.  All of the songs on the CD are very appealing to me, but I will admit that I do have some favorites that I prefer.  I will not attempt to order the songs by preference because my favorites change quite often each time I listen to the CD.  Instead, I will list them in the order that they appear on the CD along with my personal impressions of each song.

Think of Me (from The Phantom of the Opera)  – This song was released as a single before the Awakening CD was released.  It has been promoted quite a bit and even has a music video associated with it..  Jackie Evancho has always tried to feature a song from “Phantom of the Opera” on each of her CDs because the musical contains many of her favorite songs and is the influence behind why she started singing.  Jackie is tremendous on this track and the cadenza that she does at the end is a fabulous climax to the piece.

Your Love (from Once Upon a Time in the West) – One of my favorite songs on the CD.  The song itself is hauntingly beautiful.  Jackie has an astonishing way of incorporating her soothing voice to the demanding range that is required to sing this song.  I find myself getting misty-eyed many times when I hear it.  The emotional tug of the music can be overwhelming at times!   Although the lyrics are somewhat of a love song, I’ve thought that they could also be interpreted as expressing one’s love of God too.  Perhaps that is why it affects me in such an emotional way.

Je t’aime (from Pure) – When I saw the track list before I received the CD, this song is one that I wasn’t very excited about until I heard Jackie’s version of it (Jackie has a way of doing that to me).  Although the English translation of the French lyrics are a bit odd, I find myself liking this song a lot because it is so masterfully done.  The rich accompaniment coupled with Jackie’s outstanding way she sings in French is very impressive.  I would have to say that this song ranks as one of my top favorites on the CD.

Take Me There – An original song that was specifically written for Jackie Evancho by Johan Oberholzer. The song has an upbeat accompaniment that has somewhat of a Pop sound to it.  The song starts out slow and eventually builds to a moving beat that rhythmically pulses with Jackie’s exquisitely smooth vocals.  This is one song that I would hope would be a candidate for radio air-play on a Soft Rock or Pop station.

Open Fields of Grace – This song has hints of a Scottish or Irish ballad.  It has a certain graceful feel to it (as is indicated by the title).  The song has a deep meaning of longing to be with a lost loved-one who has passed from this world into the “Open Fields of Grace.”  Some would label this song as a “dirge” but I feel that term doesn’t give this song justice.  Instead, I would refer to it as a spiritual walk in paradise when our time on this world has passed to the next, leaving behind all of our suffering and troubles.

Ave Maria  (attributed to Giulio Caccini, music by Vladimir Vavilov) – I admire this song choice for the CD because of my faith.    It is one of my top favorites on the CD.  The song is  heavenly not only for the Blessed Virgin Mother for whom the song is titled, but for the beautiful way that Jackie sings it.

Memories (from The Silent Force) – This song has somewhat of a Celtic sound to it at times.  It has a flowing rhythmic beat to it.  The song somewhat reminds me of  the style of music that is commonly sung by Sarah Brightman, although it was originally sung by the Dutch symphonic metal/rock band Within Temptation.  Jackie does a marvelous rendition of this song and stays true to the original style of the song.

The Rains of Castamere (from Game of Thrones) – I will admit that I am somewhat unfamiliar with the TV show “Game of Thrones” in which the song is associated.  It is my understanding that this is a very popular TV series on HBO.  I sense some varied deep emotions in this song.   It starts out with a mysterious overtone – sort of like it is pulling you in and you cannot resist its spell.  Next, there is a sense of sadness to the music – such as if it is a portraying a tragedy of sorts.  Then, there are glimpses of hope, that are countered by the shadows of distress.  This is how I hear the story that the music conveys to me.  If I were to just read the lyrics I wouldn’t have those emotional connections.  To me, that is the true essence of a good quality musical performance – something that touches me deeply where I am emotionally mesmerized with what I am hearing.  THAT is what I get from Jackie’s voice.  Her voice is so pure, it is almost scary as to how much it reaches into my soul.  It is quite bewildering to say the least!

Dormi Jesu – One of my favorite songs on the CD being more on the classical side.  It is sung in Latin.  I believe this particular song highly showcases Jackie’s musical talent.  She sings the song so fluently with gorgeous nuances in vocal and lyrical interpretation.  If I were to “show off” Jackie to my friends, I would probably start with this piece.

Vocalise (from “Fourteen Songs”, Op. 34 – Sergei Rachmaninoff ) – For those unfamiliar with this song or the title it is a term for a song without lyrics.  One might think that a song without lyrics should be easy, but this song is far from easy.  Clearly this has to be one of the most difficult and challenging pieces for Jackie to sing.    When I hear this song I am amazed at the difficulty level that would be required to sing it.  The scoring of the orchestral accompaniment must present many challenges for a singer to find reference pitches for all of the complex interval changes that occur within the music.  It really is astonishing how well Jackie (who was 13 at the time of the recording) was able to absolutely nail this song like a seasoned adult pro with years of vocal experience.  It shows just how much Jackie has matured and grown as a musician.

With or Without You (from The Joshua Tree, music by U2) –  A song originally made famous by the rock band U2.  Although Jackie does a wonderful job singing this song and that she has indicated that it is one of her favorites to sing, I will admit that I am not as emotionally connected to this song as some of the others.  It isn’t that I don’t care for the song, I just don’t feel like it showcases Jackie’s talents as well as the other songs on the CD.  A lot of it probably boils down to personal taste.  I have heard some fans say that it is at the top of their favorites list.  If you are more inclined to lean more on the Pop side of Classical Crossover (CC) music, then this song will likely appeal to you as well.  I tend to lean more towards the classical side of the CC genre.

Made to Dream (music and lyrics by Jean-Pierre Steyn) – An original song written specifically for Jackie.  The lyrics to this song seem like they tell Jackie’s story.  I usually pay more attention to the music than the lyrics of songs (it’s how I’m wired), but in the case of Made To Dream, the lyrics are almost as if Jackie is revealing her inner-self.  Jackie has conveyed her ambition of living out her dream to sing for the enjoyment of others.  This song tenderly conveys the fruition of her dreams taking flight and that she was made to dream.  Perhaps that is how Jackie is wired.

In conclusion:

Jackie has referred to the title of her Awakening CD as a reflection of her “awakening” as an artist and person.  I believe that she certainly has done that.  Although Jackie’s prior CDs are outstanding, it is clear that her new CD is indeed a reflection of Jackie taking her artistic talents to a whole new level.  I encourage anyone reading this blog to get yourself a copy of this CD and hear it for yourself, for my words in this blog cannot possibly give this music the justice that it deserves.

Awakening is now available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, as well as other retail stores.

Note that a bonus Christmas CD with Awakening is also available exclusively at Wal-Mart.  Stay tuned to this blog for an addendum to this review when we get closer to the Christmas season.

Finally, here are some video clips to whet your appetite for Awakening:

To view more of my favorite Jackie Evancho videos, check out my YouTube playlist.

Keep in mind that I am NOT a paid promoter of Jackie Evancho..  The opinions expressed in this review are my own personal thoughts and expressions regarding Jackie and her music.  I have made every attempt to post accurate information whenever possible.

Memories of The PBS Filming at Longwood Gardens

CaptureRecently, I had the pleasure of attending the concert and taping of Jackie Evancho‘s third PBS special on location at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania on August 21, 2014.  This will have been the seventh Jackie Evancho concert that I have attended. Of all the concerts that I have attended, as spectacular as they have all been, I would have to say this was by far the most memorable.  The experience of seeing Jackie perform live is extraordinary in itself, but when you combine that with all the ambiance of a place like Longwood Gardens. plus the excitement of watching her PBS TV special being filmed live, it is almost overwhelming!  At first when I found out about this concert I wasn’t sure if I could attend.  My wife and I had already made plans to see Jackie at Chautauqua.  The late announcement of the PBS concert filming ended up being two weeks after the concert at Chautauqua.  The drive to Longwood would only be about 7 hours, so I knew that this was about as good as it gets to witness the recording of a Jackie Evancho PBS special.  It was an opportunity that I could not pass up.  I purchased two tickets for my wife and I.  Unfortunately, a few weeks later my wife realized that she had a schedule conflict on the day of the concert and could not attend.  So, I decided to go to the concert solo even though I really wanted to have my wife go with me too.  I know she would have loved to see it.

As with any Jackie Evancho concert, the anticipation leading up to the event is almost as exciting as the actual concert itself.  However, the time leading up to this concert also presented some anxiety.  Being that this was an open-air outdoor concert, the threat of bad weather was a major concern.  The weather forecast for the day of the concert did not look good at all.  The chance of rain was very strong (80 to 90 percent).  There was a rain date schedule for August 22nd, but that day didn’t look much better.  The weather forecast for the entire week of the concert was very poor, and the actual day of the concert was looking like the worst weather day of the week.  It would be so heartbreaking if this wonderful concert was hampered by bad weather.  The only thing I could do was pray that somehow God would shield the area from the impending rain.

On the morning of August 20th,I departed on the 7 hour drive to Longwood.  I decided to leave a day before the concert so that I would not have any stress or anxiety about trying to get to the concert on time.  The morning that I departed from Ohio, the weather was very bad.  There was a heavy rain falling.  Typically Ohio weather moves eastward, so it didn’t look good for the Longwood area in eastern PA.    I was driving in rain for about an hour, when it suddenly cleared up.  I probably got ahead of the rain and it was now chasing me across PA.  I continued to pray as I drove in hopes that the weather situation would improve.  About 100 miles from Longwood, it started to rain heavily again, however once I reached my hotel the skies were sunny and there was no rain in sight.  I was really worried though that the rain was on its way.

The next day, the weather was overcast, but no rain.  Temperatures were in the 80s with very high humidity (about 80 – 90 percent).  As long as it didn’t rain, then I was OK with the humidity.  I made my way over to Longwood Gardens around 11:00 am to tour the grounds before the concert.  My hotel was about 10 miles away, so I decided to wear my concert attire there and just try my best to stay cool.  It was very hot and humid, but I wanted to tour the grounds.  I must say that it is a beautiful place.  The gardens, flowers, fountains and overall scenery are pristine.  It is an incredible location for Jackie to do her PBS special.  Very good choice by whoever made the decision to film there.  One of the most impressive areas that I saw were some of the sections of the indoor conservatory.

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Later during the day, I  heard that Jackie had a filming session in the ballroom in that area, as well as various other surrounding gardens near the conservatory.  Unfortunately, I missed a filming of Jackie that occurred just moments after I left the conservatory area.  By the time I had heard about it and started heading back there, the session was over.  Oh well, story of my life.  By mid -afternoon, many of Jackie’s fans were getting together at the Longwood Cafe for lunch and to socialize before the concert.  There were fans who came from Russia, France, Germany, and the UK as well as many fans from all over the United States.  Jackie has a very loyal fan following, and I must say they are all very nice and generous people.  Many fan-made custom Jackie buttons were given out and everyone was sharing their thoughts about Jackie and the upcoming concert.  The atmosphere was electric!

Around 4:00 pm many fans  started gathering around the blocked off entrance to the stage area.  The tickets for the concert were unreserved, so some of us die-hard fans wanted to get to the head of the line so that we could get good seats.  At 4:30, the gates would open, but not where we thought.  An usher indicated the line would form just down the path from where we were standing.  Myself and several other fans immediately headed in the direction indicated by the usher, and through some miracle, we were at the head of the line – I was about the 4th person in line.   We would still have to wait there in the sweltering humid heat for two hours before they would let us into the theater area at 6:30.  The weather forecast was still very iffy around that time.  The forecast still showed a 90% chance of rain and the weather radar on my phone showed a very large cell headed our way.  I kept saying to myself, “Please God, hold off this rain just until the concert is over!”  So far, so good!

At a little past 6:30, we were permitted to enter the theater area.  Being at the head of the line, I thought we would get very good seats.  I did not expect to get real close to the front because I suspected that some seats would be reserved.  I expected to get within at least the first 10 rows.  Unfortunately as we entered the theater, one of the ushers told us to start sitting in the back of the theater.  What’s with that?  First in line yet we are to sit in the back!?  Understandably we were a bit upset!  I didn’t want to make a scene, but it was troubling.  Suddenly I looked over and all the people who were way behind us in line were streaming to the front of the theater to get the unreserved closer seats.  I decided to do the same, but by then it was too late.  There was some confusion as to what was going on.  As it turns out, I ended up in about the 20th row and could see many people who were way back behind me in line within the first 10 rows.  I still ended up in a fairly good seat so I shouldn’t complain, but the process for handling the seating by the ushers was not one of the highlights of the day.

The theater area looked like a wonderland of beauty.  The stage was adorned with a multitude of flowers and plants.  There were large camera booms, teleprompters, video cameras, and lighting systems in place.  It all looked amazing!  I felt like I was in another world.  I could hardly contain the excitement I was feeling.  Right in front of me was this magnificent stage that looked like a flowering paradise.  There were several levels to the stage and towards the back were large fountains that would spray huge plumes of water.  The lighting was incredible as it glistened off all of the plants and flowers – highlighting all the nuances of the greenery.

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The concert was scheduled to start around 7:30, but ended up starting about 15 minutes late.  The producer of the show gave the audience a few instructions on how the evening would progress.  This would not be a typical concert.  There may be some re-takes, and some audience shots by the cameras.  That was to be expected.  Personally, I couldn’t be happier to hear Jackie sing a song more than once, so bring on the re-takes!  The MC of the show was also Jackie’s duet partner for a couple of songs.  His name was Cheyenne Jackson.  He is a prominent Broadway singer and actor.  He would sing two duets with Jackie –  “Think of Me” and “Say Something.”   The following is the complete set list with a few of my comments on some of the songs.  The song list is from Jackie’s new CD titled “Awakening” that will be released this September 23rd.

Act #1:

  • Think Of Me – This was performed as a duet with Cheyenne.  I was surprised that this was a duet, since the single of Think Of Me was just released with Jackie singing it solo.  There were some whimsical lyrics that Cheyenne used that were not part of the original Phantom of the Opera song that this came from.
  • Your Love – Currently, I would have to say this was my favorite song of the night.  This song is a a beautiful vocalized version of the song from the movie “Once Upon a Time In the West”
  • Je T’aime – This song is a remake of the same song made popular by Lara Fabian.  I must say that after hearing Jackie sing it, I think Lara may have some competition.  I was not a real big fan of this song until I heard Jackie sing it.  Now it is one of my favorites of the concert.
  • Made To Dream – This is a new song that I believe was specifically written for Jackie.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much about this one.
  • O Mio Babinno Caro  – Jackie commented on this song and eluded to the fact that this is her signature song that she wanted to include on all her concerts.  It is the song that made her famous on her debut at America’s Got Talent.

Act #2:

  • Say Something (duet) – Jackie and Cheyenne sang this song beautifully.  The song originated from  Ian Axel
  • Ave Maria – This is the Caccini version.  I will have to say this is another one of my top favorite songs on the concert.  Jackie sang this song in such a heavenly way, all I could do was look up at the sky and reflect on the magnificence of the moment.
  • Rains of Castamere – This song has been released as a single from the TV show Game of Thrones.  We were treated to two performances of this song due to a retake.
  • Vocalise – This is the song composed by Rachmaninoff.  Probably the most difficult song for Jackie to sing.  However, she sang it effortlessly and I was amazed at how incredible she did on it.  Two ballerinas danced to this piece while Jackie sang.  It was very elegant.   Because of a slight wardrobe issue with one of the ballerinas, Jackie was asked to sing it one more time so that the TV producer could get the shot right.  I thought about how hard it must be to have to sing that song again, and yet Jackie sang it again perfectly.
  • Open Fields Of Grace – This was a very tranquil song that gave me visions of walking through Longwood Gardens and marveling at all of the marvelous scenery there.  I believe there was a segue to a part of Longwood that may be on the DVD of the concert when it is released.  I guess we will know for sure when the DVD comes out.

Act #3:

  • Take Me There – This was actually supposed to be the concluding piece on the show, but they wanted to get it in soon just in case the weather didn’t hold out and because it was getting late.  I believe this song was another original song for Jackie.  It had more of an upbeat tempo and a bit more on the pop side.  I could see this song possibly getting radio air-play.  I loved it!
  • With or Without You  – This is the song by the group U2.  I will have to say that although Jackie sang it great, it is probably not my most favorite song, but according to Jackie her Dad likes it a lot.
  • My Immortal – This is the song by Evanescence.   Jackie surprised us all by coming out and playing the piano for this while she sang the first half of the song.  I was impressed at how well she did since I have never seen her play piano before.  She did an outstanding job singing and playing.  Part way through the piece she transitioned from the piano to sing at center stage as someone took over the piano part for the remainder of the song.
  • Memories – Another beautiful song that may be an original as well.  I don’t recall ever hearing this song before.  And no, it is not the song from Cats.
  • Dormi Jesu – Another very challenging song for Jackie to sing.  Yet, it was outstanding!  Another one of my top favorite songs of the evening.

The song list was the right balance between classical and pop songs as is typical in the Classical Crossover genre that Jackie sings.  It has some reminiscence of her very successful Dream With Me CD, only that Jackie has turned it up a notch.  She is older now and much more powerful with her voice.  Yet, she still maintains the warmth and purity to her vocals that trigger tears to flow from listening to her sing.  With all that, Jackie still maintains a relaxed and whimsical demeanor on stage.  She joked around with the audience at times and was very fun to watch as she would occasionally jump and skip on stage – still preserving some of those little-girl moments as she transitions to being a young woman.  In the past 4 years I have seen Jackie progress from a very talented 10 year-old little girl to a 14 year-old superstar who is cherished and admired by many.  She continues to get better and better as the years progress.  Her new CD is going to be epic and I hope that anyone reading this blog will get a copy when it comes out on September 23rd.

Ironically, it never did rain during the concert.  The rain held off until we were exiting the theater after the concert had ended.  Just then, a soft drizzle of rain fell from the skies.  It was almost as if the angels were weeping for joy from what they had just heard too.  God did indeed answer our prayers.

You can pre-order Jackie’s new CD titled “Awakening” at the link below:

http://www.jackieevancho.com/awakening

An evening with Jackie Evancho at Chautauqua

My wife and I had the good fortune of attending the Jackie Evancho concert this past Friday (8/8/14) at the Chautauqua Institute concert hall.  The following blog post is a report of my experience attending the concert.

We started the 3 hour drive to Chautauqua, NY on the day of the concert, arriving at the Chautauqua Suites hotel around 1:00 pm.  Right away we met several Jackie Evancho fans.  Even though none of us have met personally before, it felt like we knew each other well because of the connection that we have to Jackie Evancho’s fan club and various online forums.  Soon more Jackie fans showed up in the lobby and we had a lot of pleasant conversations about our common bond to Jackie Evancho.  The location of the hotel was only about a mile from Andriaccios restaurant, where we would have the traditional fan gathering that takes place before Jackie concerts.  My wife and I couldn’t check into our hotel until 3:00 pm, so we decided to drive to the 2:00 pm fan gathering, stay there for about an hour or so, and then drive back to the hotel to check-in and change into our concert attire.  When we arrived at the fan gathering it was wonderful to see so many excited fans.  About 25 of us showed up for the gathering.  There were even a few fans who came from outside the US to see the concert.  One fan came from Germany and two others came from the United Kingdom just to see Jackie perform.  Now that is dedication!  It was a pleasure to meet them and to talk with him.  It truly amazes me that people would travel that far to see Jackie sing, but at the same time realizing just how special it is that I only had about a three-hour drive to see Jackie.  It made me realize just how lucky I am that I didn’t have to travel that far for the Chautauqua concert.  The people from outside of the US have my utmost respect for their dedication to Jackie.  They are really wonderful fans as are all of Jackie’s fans.

After my wife and I returned to the hotel to check-in, we drove to the Chautauqua grounds just a bit before 4:00pm. Our concert tickets included the gate fee to get in to the grounds at 4:00pm. So that worked out really well. I had a parking ticket to park in the main parking lot right across from the entrance to Chautauqua. The parking lot was huge and we circled for a while trying to find a place to park. I was amazed at how full the lot was! Were all these cars there just for the Jackie concert? We were getting a bit worried that we may not get good seats if that many people were there already. We had to drive all the way to the back overflow lot to park. Luckily there was a shuttle service that would shuttle people in from the parking lot right up to the main gate. This was the first time we had ever been to Chautauqua. The grounds are very picturesque. It is a quaint vacation village of sorts with cottages, shops, and beautiful flower gardens. Lots of nice people too. It was a very scenic and family friendly environment. We really enjoyed walking around the place, but our first priority was to locate the concert hall to scope it out and see how many people were waiting to get in. We really didn’t know what to expect as far as how hard it would be to get good seats since they were first-come-first-serve. We did have the seating upgrade option, but it included a rather large section. We wanted to get within the first several rows if possible. Turns out our fears were unnecessary. We were there with plenty of time to spare. No lines were forming just yet.

The concert hall is an open-air venue with a roof on top.  The seats were similar to pews that you would find in a church. Many of us fans were gathered before the concert around the side of the venue and we could see directly into the hall.  The orchestra was rehearsing and at some point we knew that Jackie would probably come out to rehearse with them.  My wife and I walked around the concert hall towards the back and we saw where Jackie’s tour bus was parked.  There was no sign of Jackie or her family.  The backstage area of the theater was fairly exposed.  We could see people milling around behind the stage, but once again there was no sign of anyone familiar on Jackie’s team.  My wife and I strolled around a little more to take in the sights of the surroundings.  The lake was situated behind the concert hall so we strolled down there to take in the view.  I guess someone had spotted the Evancho kids playing on the hillside near there, but my wife and I didn’t see them;  Thus, I cannot confirm or deny that sighting.  Later we walked up to the hall to make sure that a crowd wasn’t forming around the venue.  Soon, we heard the familiar voice of Jackie rehearsing the song “Imaginer” with the orchestra.  It was a bit hard to see her because the sun was bright and the stage was shadowed.  We could see that there were several kids who hopped up on stage with Jackie and then surrounded her while she sang.  It appeared as though some of the kids were Jackie’s siblings (Jacob, Zachary, and Rachel), plus a couple of other kids too.  It appeared as though they were maybe trying to shield Jackie from being video recorded.  Jackie’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers and could be heard throughout the area as she sang.  She sounded wonderful!  I will say that it was very exciting to be able to witness the rehearsal.  The last time I had seen Jackie rehearse was in Pittsburgh back in 2011 as part of the VIP M&G package.  So this was a real treat in itself!

A few people were starting to form a line at around 6:30 pm, so we staked out our spot in line at the entrance near the front of the stage.  We had quite a bit of time to kill before we would get let into the hall at around 7:30 pm.  My wife and I were standing in line with two ladies in front of us who had never been to a Jackie concert before.  They remembered her from America’s Got Talent (AGT) and they thought it would be nice to see her perform.  Of course, I gave them the whole rundown of Jackie and all the history behind these past several years that followed AGT.  I told them that they were in for one of the best concert experiences ever.  Another man walked over from one of the cottages across from the venue and asked us what was going on at the concert hall tonight.  He was amazed at how many people were starting to form around the concert hall.  He asked me, “Was there some big-name show that night?”  I asked him if he had heard of Jackie Evancho.  He replied, “Who is that?”  I then asked him if he ever watched America’s Got Talent.  He replied, “Never heard of it.”  At that point I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was up to the challenge.  I proceeded to tell him all about Jackie and the history behind her tremendous voice.  He became interested rather quickly and said that he and his family would listen to the concert from their front porch, which had a direct view of the stage.  It would have been interesting to have been able to speak with them after the concert to see their reaction.

As 7:30 pm approached, the gates to the concert hall opened.  We entered and gingerly stepped down some steep inclines to get to the front rows of the theater.  It wasn’t a mad scramble, but we had to act quickly to get good seats.  The first two rows filled up fast, but the 3rd row was open just to the left of the podium.  That was my preferred location anyhow.  Jackie would be directly in front of us.  You can’t ask for better than that!  The concert hall started to fill rapidly and soon it became apparent that this crowd was going to be BIG!  We asked one of the ushers about the capacity of the hall.  She said it could hold approximately 5000, not including the overflow seats or the seats above and behind the stage.  Not only did the venue fill up to capacity, but so did the overflow seats and several seats in the area behind the stage.  By 8:00 pm, the concert hall was packed and we still had 15 minutes to go before the start of the show.  This was a much larger crowd than I had ever seen at a solo concert by Jackie.  I noticed that some kids came out from behind stage with the unmistakable Meet and Greet (M&G) badges.  It looked as though there may have been a private M&G for those kids.  I am sure it was a thrill for them to get to meet Jackie.  I can certainly attest to that from past experiences meeting her.

Soon the show would begin.  The orchestra seemed a bit small compared to other concerts that I have been to, but it may have just been how I perceived it.  It was hard to tell where Jackie would be entering the stage.  There was a door on each side of the stage and one in the center behind the stage.  When Jackie’s conductor John Mario came in, he entered in the center door at the rear of the stage. That is also where Jackie would come in after the orchestra opened with “Cavalleria Rusticana” which is the perfect setup piece for her.  Jackie was wearing her beautiful turquoise dress and she looked fabulous!  She informed the audience that she loved the dress because it made her feel like a superstar and that it reminded her of a dress in the movie Frozen.  Unfortunately there were strict rules at this concert about taking photos or videos, so I kept in-line with the rules and did not get any videos or pictures.  Jackie opened the concert with the familiar song “When You Wish Upon A Star.”  I will admit that before the concert started I was a bit disappointed that no new songs from her upcoming Awakening CD (due to be released this September 23rd, 2014) would be performed based on what was reported from her previous concert in Portsmouth just two days earlier.  However, once I heard Jackie start to sing, I realized that it didn’t matter.  Just hearing that marvelous voice live again meant the world to me and it re-invigorated my love for her music.  Besides, I will be attending her upcoming PBS concert filming at Longwood Gardens in the next two weeks (August 21st, 2014) where new songs will be performed.

Now, about the Chautauqua concert itself. I will admit that Jackie probably did not have her “A” game on a couple of songs. She sort of had a brain blank-out when she sang Some Enchanted Evening when she missed an entrance on one of the verses.  She got a little flustered and said something like, “Sorry, this happens all the time.”  She did recover and finished the song as any true professional would.  We in the front rows gave her a standing ovation for support.  In my personal opinion, since Jackie has done so many flawless performances, she has earned the right to several mulligans here and there.  No big deal if you ask me.  All performers make mistakes.   I know that I have made many myself.  The only advice I would give Jackie is to not let your audience know when it happens.  In the second half, there was one other slight miscue in the song Lovers, but that was much less obvious.  I don’t want to make a big deal over this, but I just wanted to mention it to be thorough in my report.  One song that really hit me emotionally was The Lord’s Prayer.  Because Chautauqua is primarily a Christian community, and knowing that probably the majority of the audience had probably heard that song sung by other singers countless times, I couldn’t help but wonder what the residents must have thought when Jackie sang it.  I know I have never heard anyone sing The Lord’s Prayer as beautifully as Jackie.  The moment she sang it I could feel the usual uncontrollable tears welling up in my eyes. I know how much this song means to me and likely meant to the community there as well.  I also think it means a lot to Jackie too.

Soon it was intermission – the time to talk with people around me to see what they thought about the concert so far.  One gentleman who sat directly behind me had never seen Jackie before and was totally in awe at what he heard in the first half.  He told me that after hearing her sing he couldn’t believe what he was witnessing.  He said he entered the concert hall with a bit of skepticism, but now he understands why she has such a faithful fan following.  Many people during intermission told us how they were impressed that Jackie’s fans were so faithful to her and how much they admired the appreciation that we showed her.

Soon the second half would start. Jackie opened with the song “Lovers,” and aside from the slight miscue at the beginning that I mentioned earlier, she was terrific!  She wore a beautiful cream-colored dress that glistened in the spotlights.  As the second half went on, it was almost as if Jackie’s voice was getting more confident and stronger.  The closer we got to the end of the second half, the more her voice seemed to be on fire!  Her high notes and low notes (as well as the notes in-between) were outstanding!  So pure, and yet so powerful!  When she got to the last piece (The Impossible Dream), she dedicated it to her mother (Lisa), saying how much she loved her and that she was the best mom.  Kudos to Lisa for sacrificing so much so that Jackie can live out “The Impossible Dream.”  Also, Jackie dedicated the song “What a Wonderful World” to her father (Mike) during the first half of the concert.  She indicated that the song means a lot to him and that it makes him cry, but that they are tears of joy.  Don’t worry Mike, it happens to the best of us.  Jackie finished with two encores (O Mio Babino Cairo and Music of The Night). Both songs were extraordinary!  You could tell that Jackie’s voice was really running on full throttle during those songs.  Her confidence was rock solid in the second half and it seemed almost as if her voice became stronger at the end of the concert and  that she probably would have continued singing if there was more music on the set list.

In between songs, Jackie was very jovial with the audience.  One thing that she kept mentioning was that she saw a spider (either backstage or on stage – not sure).  She kept mentioning the spider between songs and said that it had a beautiful web, however she was also very afraid of spiders.  One person close to the front said she should squish it, and she said, “Oh no I could never do that, the spider is my new pet named Chico!”  It was funny how she made light banter with the audience at times.  The comment was also true to form in regards to her respect for all living things, even spiders that frighten her.  Jackie also seemed very attentive to someone on her left in the front.  I couldn’t tell for sure who it was, but Jackie smiled and waved in that direction a few times.  I was told that there was a little girl sitting there with a Jackie doll, but I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting.

After the concert, many of us fans gathered at the Chautauqua Suites hotel bar to have our post-concert recap.  We talked until after 1:00 am about all of our Jackie fan experiences.  It is really great to be in a room with a people who have that common bond that Jackie helped us to form.  I truly loved every minute of the day and cannot wait until the next concert and PBS taping of Awakening at Longwood Gardens on August 21st, 2014.  I will be there and will provide another blog post of that concert experience as well.

You can pre-order Jackie’s upcoming Awakening CD at the following link:

http://www.jackieevancho.com/awakening

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